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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

adverse impact from rapid growth (of both total population and the labor force) to work mainly through adverse shifts in factor proportions (ratios of capital and other nonlabor factors to labor inputs). Adverse effects of rapid population growth are more likely to arise from the impact of growth on the "residual" processes themselves—for example, through significantly reduced opportunities for raising levels of education, health, and other human-resource-developing programs.
Population Growth and Technology
Modern technology has increasingly been directed toward doing better or more cheaply or in a greater variety of ways those things that most people in the poorer countries cannot afford to do at all. A quick review of ten or twenty major innovations of the past 2 or 3 decades will confirm this seemingly sweeping generalization. Thus, until recently much new technology has had only limited relevance to the problems of less developed countries and, in a number of instances, has even affected them adversely. The "Green Revolution" is a recent and major departure.
This does not mean that technology cannot be or has not been imported from the richer countries. Indian steel mills, Brazilian petrochemical plants, and synthetic fertilizer plants around the globe are very important examples. The question is whether rapid population growth has impeded native development, importation, or adaptation of technology. Evidence on this point is scarce, perhaps because traditional analysis has focused on the availability of capital.
It has been argued that in the obverse situation-i.e., relatively scarce labor vis-a-vis land and capital—a pressure for technology develops to substitute for manpower, and that the emergence of technology in the early history of the United States was a response to such a situation. To the extent that this is true, it is a historical circumstance that will not coincide with the special requirements of the less developed countries, because the heavy emphasis on labor-saving in modern technology-including agriculture—does not meet the needs of countries with surplus labor or underemployment.
It can also be argued that there are a number of ways in which population growth has indirectly been a factor in retarding technology, though again evidence is not at hand. First, given the priority of food in the consumer budget, new technology has been most urgently needed in agriculture. The basic scientific principles that could generally be applied have long been available, but, to be successful, new agricultural technology requires the cooperation of a large, widely dispersed, unorganized mass of small producers who must be reached and reoriented. This requires time, programs, policies, organization, division of labor, and a market economy, all of which are scarce in a develonine country.or understanding demographic-economic interrelations. It would relegate to a much more secondary position the role of diminishine returns: it would notelated collective consumption needs would stay largely unchanged for the better part of a decade, and